It’s vacation time for the kids, and with the ongoing IPL matches, and even the upcoming FIFA World Cup, you’re probably in the market for a new television set. Well, here’s a quick primer to help you buy one that’s just right for you…
Size and panel
The quick-fix rule to decide the size of the TV to buy: Distance (in inches) from TV to your eyes ÷ 1.6 = Optimum diagonal length of TV. You can fiddle around with this equation a bit, but more than anything else, the size should just be the largest you can afford. It’s that simple.
The panel to select for your TV is a different matter: In India, dust becomes a big factor in how long a TV will last. Because of this, look for either IPS panels or glass-coated VA panels. The easiest way to test the screen? Lightly tap on it with your knuckle. If it makes a sound like glass, that’s what you should buy. But if there’s a water-like ripple on the panel, avoid it.
LED Vs LCD Vs Plasma
The jargon in LED, LCD and Plasma can get confusing, especially with manufacturers using proprietary terms like “LED+” and “SuperLED”. Here’s what you need to know: Unless you are buying a TV that costs Rs 1.5 lakh or more, you aren’t going to get a full-array LED or a “true LED” screen. For anything below that, there isn’t going to be a very big difference between LED, LCD and Plasma as there’s a lot more to display technology that determines how good your pictures will look.
Plasma televisions will give you better black levels, but they also cost a lot to repair, so you may want to look at LCD or LED instead. From these two, buy whatever looks best to your eye.
HD Vs Full-HD
At anything below 46 inches, it’s difficult to tell an HD TV apart from a Full-HD TV unless you are watching a Blu-ray movie at a distance of less than eight feet. If that’s your seating arrangement and viewing style, then Full-HD would be worth it. For anything else, an HD TV (usually called HD-ready) is going to be quite all right. That said, if you are choosing between two TVs and one is HD while the other is Full HD, opt for the latter.
Smart TV, Connectivity
HDMI ports are important as it is fast becoming the standard for connecting a device to your screen. Ideally, look for something with three HDMI ports, but don’t settle for anything less than two ports.
If your budget permits it, definitely go for a smart TV with built-in Wi-Fi. Right now, the use of this is limited because there aren’t enough apps and services in India. But if your TV is a long-term purchase, you will be glad you bought one with Wi-Fi and a smart UI. In the next five years, expect to see plenty of internet streaming services, as well as social network integration. In fact, at prices of 30,000 and upwards, you definitely should go for a smart TV.
Wi-Di, or Wi-Fi Direct, is another standard that is helpful to have in terms of future compatibility since your next smartphone might be able to share content with your TV seamlessly using this technology.
Just because your TV has a USB port does not mean it will play every movie file you throw at it. Different models support different formats. For instance, at around the 15,000 price point, most TVs don’t support movie files. In the Rs 20,000-25,000 range, you will get TVs that play back DivX video only (AVI files). But for compatibility with the widest range of file formats, look for TVs that support “DivX HD” – this will usually mean it supports AVI, MKV, MP4 and several other video formats. The best bet, of course, is to ask the salesman, and if possible, test the TV with a pen drive that’s filled with different file formats.
If you plan to use a portable hard drive with your TV, make sure the model supports the size of your disk. In budgets under Rs 25,000, you will only get sets that support 250-320GB drives or external hard drives with their own power supply. Again, the easiest way is to go to the showroom with your hard drive and test that it works on the TV before you buy. Effort? Yes, but remember this is a five-year purchase or longer.
Passive or Active 3D
Passive 3D TVs are sold by LG and are more practical for casual viewing. The 3D glasses cost about Rs 400, so you can buy many of them and call friends over. Also, most of the 3D content you get, like live sports, is made for such passive 3D. Plus, the glasses are light and don’t need batteries, adding to their convenience.
Active 3D TVs are sold by Samsung, Sony and a few others and are better suited for film buffs with a collection of the latest 3D Blu-ray discs – but know that it comes at a price as each pair of glasses cost Rs 2,000 or more and needs to be recharged. That said, it’s best to check both 3D technologies to decide on what suits your budget and your viewing habits.
You can avail of extended warranty from the manufacturer, but the price varies depending on the store you buy it from. The extended warranty always boosts your default one-year warranty to three years. Big retail outlets charge Rs 1,800-2,000 for TVs up to Rs 45,000; Rs 3,000-3,500 for TVs up to Rs 70,000; and Rs 5,000-7,000 for TVs above Rs 70,000. If you are buying directly from a company’s showroom or factory outlet, then the price of extended warranty drops by about 10-15%. But no matter what, it makes sense to get this extended warranty as it’s a small premium for a lot of extra protection.